Former soldier killed his girlfriend’s five-month-old daughter by shaking her until her brain bled

Livingston High Court
Livingston High Court

A former soldier has admitted killing his girlfriend’s five-month-old daughter by repeatedly shaking the baby until her brain bled.

Gordon McKay, 38, was originally charged with murdering little Hayley Davidson while he was looking after her at his home in Buckhaven, Fife, on Valentine’s Day 2016.

He pled guilty to a reduced charge of culpable homicide at the High Court in Livingston yesterday and now faces an “inevitable” prison sentence.

Judge Lord Uist deferred the case for background reports until May 10.

Advocate depute Jane Farquharson, prosecuting, told how Haley’s mother Catherine Davidson, who lived a few doors away from McKay in West High Street, Buckhaven, when she split from Hayley’s father, had developed an “obsessive” relationship with the accused.

She said the pair denied they were taking drugs but forensic tests showed they had smoked cannabis together with Hayley in the room the night before the youngster was fatally injured.

Miss Farquharson said Catherine Davidson left Hayley alone with McKay for an hour on the morning of 14 February 2016 to get her two older daughters ready for a planned day out with her grandmother.

At 11.19 Mrs Davidson got a text message from McKay saying: “Come quick!” and she ran along to his house with her two daughters.

Miss Farquharson said: “Mrs Davidson walked into the living room where she found the accused leaning over her daughter Hayley, administering CPR.”

Paramedics who arrived within seven minutes of receiving an emergency call found Mrs Davidson in a distressed state and McKay giving CPR to Hayley, who was “pale, floppy and unresponsive”.

She said McKay had told his partner that he had left Hayley alone to run a bath and returned to the room to find her unresponsive.

She said: “Mr McKay then described picking Hayley up and giving her a shake.”

Hayley was then taken to the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh where medical experts diagnosed a “non-survivable head injury” and she later died.

Miss Farquharson revealed that Hayley had previously had hospital treatment for a broken arm on New Year’s Day 2016 and McKay had accepted responsibility, describing it as an “accident”.

Solicitor advocate John Scott, defending, said McKay – who has two sons of his own living with his former partner in Inverness – was an ex soldier who had served four years in the Army, including duty in the Middle East.

He said the defence was in the process of obtaining a psychiatric report to show whether he suffered PTSD as a result of his military service.

Deferring sentence, Lord Uist told McKay the “grave” crime was bound to result in a custodial sentence.